GLENEAGLES // The angry squalls disrupting play on the third day of the Johnnie Walker championship were at the opposite end of the spectrum to the peaceful protest outside the gates of the five-star Gleneagles Hotel. Twelve demonstrators called for Diageo, Johnnie Walker's parent company, to change their plans to cut a total of 900 staff from their Scottish workforce. It goes without saying that the workers' mood has not exactly been enhanced by the news that Diageo has just announced profits in excess of £2 billion (Dh12bn) and that the golfers here this week are playing for a total of £1.4 million.
Yesterday, the men and women were holding aloft banners reading "Save our Jobs" and calling up on spectators to sign a petition. When Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, the tournament chairman, was asked if he felt any sense of personal conflict as the figurehead of a tournament where the sponsors were planning to sack so many people in his home county of Ayrshire, Montgomerie said he was relieved it was not his issue.
"This economic crisis is deeper than we thought. We thought we were out of it but I believe that there are four to five hundred Scots losing jobs every day and it applies to Ayrshire as much as anywhere else," he said. From his lowly position on level par, Monty was quick to shrug off a question as to how embarrassed he might feel were he heading for the winner's trophy. "That's a difficult question to answer. You'll have to ask the people who are in contention."
Those in contention were busy fighting the elements. Peter Hedblom was leading the way on eight under par after 12 holes, with Paul Lawrie one behind. Steven O'Hara finished at six under with bad weather forecast for the afternoon. email@example.com